Archives for posts with tag: improvement


I’ve been living more than 15 years in Los Angeles now and many things changed during that time: technologies, mindsets, economies, businesses – you name it. One dramatic change for me has been the dramatic division within the country.

Why? Politics. 24-hour news channels.

Who benefits? Both. Not the people, just some politicians and news organizations.

When I look back 15 years from now, will there be another dramatic change? Yes, pretty much the same. More division.

The “Us versus Them” strategy builds brand loyalty.

You see it in politics. Sports. Marketing: Apple vs. PCs. Ford vs. Toyota. Giving people rocks to throw at enemies is a good persuasion tactics. Just ask cults, they perfected this tactic.

Hippies thought “the system” was to blame. As a teenager, we blamed our parents. When you grow up, your boss might become the enemy, or the spouse, the kids, the government – EVERYBODY.

Enemies don’t have to be real. They can be just ideas. When you start your own business, the enemy is working for somebody else. A point of view can become an idea. An opinion. Your weight. Your connectedness.

Regardless of what it is, this tactic is everywhere now. Everybody is deploying it now. It works.

But what happens when you win?

What happens when the old boss is no more? When your weight disappears? When your commute suddenly takes 50 minutes less? You guessed right – you need a new enemy. Real successful people only compete with one person: themselves.

In his prime, Tiger Wood beat everybody. But his real struggle was to fight his own laziness, to constantly improve his game.

Michael Jordan.

Steve Jobs.

The “Us vs Them” tactic only goes so far. Once you’ve overcome the real or imagined enemy, you have to come up with new ones. External motivation is not a bad thing, it just limits your potential.

Instead, brands need to continuously challenge themselves to do more, to do better. That means setting goals, and upon reaching them set newer ones that are further away.

Intrinsic motivation will always beat external motivation. It’s sustainable. It’s effective. And so much more rewarding.


I love to run.

When I started running marathons, I used to focus on one person I wanted to beat. I just ran them into the ground. Until I passed them and I had to find another competitor to beat.

That worked well for a few miles but around Mile 15, I lost my stride and focus. Putting all my effort into beating the competition, made me forget to focus on the little things: My posture, the stride, breathing, my mental state, my exhaustion level. All have to be fine-tuned while running or Mile 22 will became the torture mile.

That’s a very common mistake

Very common for brands, organizations and people. We focus so much on the competition that we lose sight of our mission, vision and performance.

It happened to Toyota when they were focused on beating GM.

We need to use competition to improve ourselves. The competition is there to help us be better, learn from them. What are they doing right in marketing and product development? How are they dealing with customer services challenges? What decisions are turning customers into ex-customers? Collect all of them and delight them with your product/service. Don’t be ruthless against your competition. But ruthless when it comes to your brand. Ruthlessly improving.

When I run now, I focus on myself and try to learn from other fellow runners at the same time. Once I learned enough, I’ll pass them.